In an exuberant social media post, Zac Efron showed a first look at the impossibly muscular physique he built to make himself ring shape for A24’s upcoming The Iron Claw.
Since Robert De Niro got himself into ring shape to play Jake La Motta in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 classic Raging Bull, it has become a badge of pride for actors to at least once put aside the pasta and wine, and hit the gym with fitness and fight trainers, severely alter their diets, and ingesting who knows what else, to get into ripped shape to be believable in the ring. Efron, if you saw Baywatch, has always had the muscle, and yet his ring photo is nearly as stunning as the one Deadline revealed of Jake Gyllenhaal when he starred in the Antoine Fuqua-directed Southpaw. When that photo went on Deadline, the site got so many hits we almost crashed.
Deadline has put together a collection of photos of the most startling actor transformations. This includes Ben Foster. To play Harry Haft, a man forced to fight to the death other Nazi concentration camp prisoners in a nightmare scenario in the Barry Levinson-directed film, Foster dieted down to an unimaginable level. Next actor who’ll make the jump up to wow status is Jonathan Majors, who bulked up considerably to star alongside Michael B. Jordan in the upcoming Creed III.
Other memorable transformations include Tom Hardy’s MMA fighter in Warrior, Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward in The Fighter, Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, Will Smith in Ali, Denzel Washington in The Hurricane, Sly Stallone in Rocky IV, and the OG, De Niro. He not only dieted down to convincingly play middleweight Jake La Motta in the ring in Scorsese’s Raging Bull, but then gained weight to play the boxer in his later years.
Click on the photo above to launch the photo gallery of actors who stepped into the ring onscreen. Who was most impressive and convincing in the ring?